"Well, Holmes, are we stymied, then?"
"Not a bit, dear fellow! If you will begin sharpening your excellent scalpel, and perhaps heat it a bit in the lamp, I shall remove Dr. Attlee's clothing and tie his knees apart, and then with simple procedure I believe -- why, Dr. Attlee, you appear to wish to tell us something. Let us remove your gag."
One of many inspirations for Hal Dimmesdale was what I thought a reasonable question: what if Archie Goodwin had despised Nero Wolfe, which I always thought would have made a great deal more sense? Or what if Mike Hammer had had Archie Goodwin's job?
But I was trying to run this idea through a whole Wolfe pack at my agent's office, and every time I did a draft, the complaints multiplied, because people wanted Breit to be attractive, and eventually lots of scenes that should have been at shorter lengths had swollen to 3500s. (Which is probably my favorite scene length of all). And now, as I delightedly mow back the mess, and various scenes shrink to better lengths, Breit returns in all his slack-jawed-gaping-at-women's-chest-ed-ness, Hal can honestly loathe him, and I'm still having fun. I hope you few but increasing followers are too.